Philly rally and march for abortion rights warns of it not stopping at Roe
The protest, which started at Philadelphia City Hall, said the overturning of the 50-year legal precedent was just the beginning of the fight.
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On Friday, June 22, 2022 the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, ending federal protections for abortion rights. By the afternoon, protests had been organized in cities across the U.S. shaming the decision, and Philadelphia was no different.
At 6:30 p.m. on the North Apron of City Hall, a crowd of thousands gathered to hear Philly public officials and activists speak before marching.
There were many messages brought by the speakers — the history of the fight for women’s rights, especially women of color, the importance of voting in November to fight the decision, the vital role the labor movement could play in the movement to restore Roe, among many others — but the most important, and most ominous, was that it likely won’t end with just Roe if left unchecked.
“This attack on abortion access is just one component of a concerted effort to continue denying marginalized people basic human rights,” Céshia Elmore of New Voices for Reproductive Justice told the crowd.
She then cited one of the majority ruling Justices, Clarence Thomas, who just after the overturn of Roe, went on to call for overturning landmark cases that granted the right to contraceptives, sexual privacy, and legalized same-sex marriage in a reconsideration of the Court’s due process precedents.
That warning was also echoed by Philadelphia Councilmember Kendra Brooks, who laid the blame at the feet of the Republican Party.
“This is not the end, but the beginning of a long campaign by the Republican Party to strip us of our freedom and our dignity,” said Brooks. “Everything is at stake.”
But rather than offer more ominous prognostications, Brooks joined the chorus of lawmakers present — like Councilmembers Helen Gym and Jamie Gauthier — and activists, to point to a future of organizing both in the streets and at the ballot box.
“We won’t let shaming politicians take away our joy,” she said. “We will protect people seeking abortions, support abortion funds and fight like hell for our basic rights.”
Gym pointed to past movements, like that against AAPI Hate, those amid the George Floyd protests, and others to maintain status for DREAMers. She called those out to fight on the day and at the past movements “warriors.”
“We’re the warriors who have been fighting for this city for decades,” she said before tying Roe’s overturn to past attacks on voting rights, the flip of the Supreme Court, and the insurrection of Jan. 6 that brought violence to the U.S Capitol Building.
When it was Gauthier’s time to talk, she reiterated many of the same sentiments of prior speakers, and drove home the point of “not going back,” as many have felt amid the overturn of Roe v. Wade.
“Not on abortion, not on contraception, not on marriage rights, not on voting rights, not on worker’s rights, and not on civil rights,” she said.
“And guess what? We’re gonna win.”
There are likely to be many more marches in the days, months and weeks ahead, as the country barrels towards yet another most important election in its history.